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electrified door lock

Why is the Electric Strike Lock Door Handle Hot?

Have you ever gone to grab the handle of a door and it felt strangely warm? While your instincts might have been screaming fire, there may have been another explanation for this sensation. And every builder of residential homes and commercial buildings should be aware of it.

New construction buildings that have electrified door locks have all sorts of unique quirks that one new to construction might not be familiar with. But even the experienced builder should learn a thing or two about the new technology available for locks and door handles. Electric strike locks enables the electric release of a locked mechanical latch or bolt. But if you’ve ever passed by an electric strike lock door and felt heat coming off the handle, your gut reaction might be to concern.

Nothing is scarier than feeling heat coming off that metal, especially if you’re mind goes to images of metal working and shaping. But a hot strike lock is a different sort of problem all together. Though it might seem like a sure sign that something is malfunctioning in your electrified door lock, there are reasonable explanations why an electric strike lock might get hot.

We here are Harry’s Locksmith have found the three reasons why your electrified door lock might be hot. While it might seem dangerous, we assure you there is a simple fix if a hot strike lock is your problem.

Why Use An Electrified Door Lock

Many commercial buildings choose electric strike locks because it gives them greater control over the timing of when a door may or may not be accessed. A master control panel will regulate the hours during the day or night when a door is open, or even who has access to that door with the appropriate credentials.

An electrified door lock can make commercial or community spaces more safe and protected. However, just like any door, there are several ways that these types of locks can malfunction and get too hot for comfort.

It’s in Constant Use

Construction professionals hear questions all the time about electric strikes that are hot to the touch. But the number one reason why that might be the case is that the door is in constant use and therefore is being powered continuously.

Often this is a problem if the lock is being used for several hours a day without rest and most electrified door locks run continuously because they use electricity to remain locked for part of the day.

If a door is unlocked through the use of an electrical timer, the lock or the strike that is controlled by the timer is run continuously for part of the timing cycle. Which means that the electric power that flows through the latch and bolt has ‘burned out’ solenoid. Which brings us to the second reason for a hot-to-the-touch electrified door lock.

The Coil Pack is Old

A ‘burnt out’ or ‘burnt in’ solenoid is the result of an old strike. Over time the coil pack inside the solenoid becomes less efficient and eventually the potting inside the solenoids melt or ‘burn in.’

A solenoid can reach up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, but once it exceeds this temperature is when things start to get risky.

When the potting ‘burns in’ it takes more amperage to power the lock because there is more resistance in the electrical circuit as it passes through the coil.

And though the phrase ‘burned out’ might seem scary, when this happens there is no reason to believe that the solenoid will catch on fire. It simply means that the solenoid has been worn so much so that it no longer functions properly. If this is the case, your coil pack may be running toward the end of its life cycle and it will be time to replace the unit with a new electrified door lock.

There are Problems With Your Power Supply

The source of power for your electrified door lock can also be the root of your hot door handle issues. The resistance in your coil will only be exacerbated if there are problems with the your power supply.

A power supply with less than sufficient amperage to consistently power your strike lock will cause your solenoid to “run” hotter. Additionally, a drop in the current of energy, say through a long wire run with inadequate wire gauge, will cause the solenoid to not receive sufficient current, also causing the lock to run hot.

On the hand, a voltage supply that is too high, higher than the solenoid is rated to accept, will also result in a hot strike lock.

But it’s important to remember that sometimes solenoids just run hot. However, if the lock or handle seems like it could cause injury or is unusable, disconnect the device and call a professional locksmith to inspect what the problem might be.

Another great tip, according to Door Hardware Genius, to prevent overheating (after first making sure that your power supply issues have been resolved, if that is the root of the problem) is to use an electrified door strike with full inrush voltage and current upon activation and then reduce the voltage and/or current to a holding level, which will allow the solenoid to run cooler.

If fixing your electric strike lock door temperature seems like a task too dangerous for you to fix on your own, why not let our team at Harry’s Locksmith send over one of our talented technicians to walk you through the process. We offer a full range of commercial and residential locksmith services and have been a part of the Vancouver, Washington community for over 60 years.

Allow us to treat you like family, as we have with all of our customers since we first opened our doors in 1949. Our services include facilities upgrades; lock installation, repair, and replacement; electrified locks, strikes panic hardware, security doors, ada compliance, and mag locks installation and repair; and even door installation, repair, or replacement.

No matter what needs you have for your home or business, we’ll be happy to help.

The Major Differences Between Electrified Locks and Electric Strikes

Businesses used to rely on the traditional lock and key, just like homes. But the security just didn’t hold up. Thankfully, tremendous strides have been made in the locksmith industry and there are options to fit doors and budgets of all sizes.

Today, a hot option for businesses is to protect their spaces via electronic entrances. The benefits are numerous. Owners can easily determine who is coming in and out of the space, are no longer regularly replacing lost keys, and don’t have to replace said keys every time there is a staffing change.

Even within electronic entrances, there are various options, but you should understand the difference between fail-safe and fail-secure locking devices.

Fail-safe and Fail-Secure Locking Devices

With fail-safe locks, the default state is actually unlocked. To keep it locked during normal business operations, power is applied. Should the power be interrupted or fail, the door automatically unlocks or releases to let people out of the space.

The Major Differences Between Electrified Locks & Electric Strikes

Fail-safe locks are mostly used for main entry points like office doors or lobby access doors. A popular use for this application is maglocks which, by design, require power to operate.

With fail-secure locks, if the power is interrupted or fails, the door stays locked. Its default state is locked or secured, so the door gets locked when power is removed. Fail-secure locks are often used for IT rooms or other sensitive areas.

However, because the door keeps locked in emergencies, typically it will be used in conjunction with a mechanical override, such as a regular key. Fail-secure locks are used for fire-related doors or staircase (stairwell) doors. The reason is that in the case of a fire, those doors should remain closed to seal off a portion of the space and help reduce the fire from spreading.

To make the best decision for your location you’ll want to consider cost, convenience, and having the proper fail-safes in place. This is what you’ll want to know before visiting with the closest locksmith.

1. Electric Strikes

Electric strikes are generally used with metal or wood doors. They can also be used in conjunction with a deadbolt, which is good because if you are not currently using something electronic, odds are you are using a deadbolt and will need something that is compatible.

There are many ways to describe an electric strike, but the easiest way to understand what it is would be to think of it like a door buzzer in an apartment building. Electric strikes work virtually the exact same way.

No physical key is needed, but the door remains locked while only authorized users can be buzzed in. This most commonly is done in the form of a buzzer, keypad, fob reader, or key card.

Given its compatibility with wood and metal doors and general affordability compared to other electronic door security options, electric strikes are a very popular both in the home and for commercial properties.

Fail-secure and fail-safe measures can both be easily taken with an electric strike as well. If the power goes out, the fail-secure with an electric strike is that the doors remain locked, but can be opened manually either by turning the door latch or using a physical key.

2. Electric Push Bars or Exit Bars

These are generally used in order to comply with fire code. The doors are locked by default, but the push bars make a fast exit from a building possible in the event of a fire.

You will often see the push bars on side entrance doors in large buildings and they are required by law in a lot of cases because if there is a fire, people can run down a flight of stairs and push the bar quickly to get out.

A push bar allows a building to have a modern access control system operating its doors while also complying with safety and fire code regulations, making it a suitable option in many cases.

3. Magnetic Locks

These types of locks are perfect for a modern office building because most architects now design buildings with elegant glass doors and those are not always compatible with physical locks.

They operate using a powerful electromagnet attached to the top door frame at the corner with a corresponding metal plate on the door itself, meaning the locks work just like two large magnets.

Magnetic locks are a workaround for those designs and the amount of force necessary to operate the door’s opening and closing usually varies based on how large the door is in each scenario. As a result, magnetic locks can be a very classy option.

However, it should be kept in mind that they quite often require motion sensors and backup batteries to operate. They are also one of the more expensive options, so if you are on a budget and looking to cut costs, magnetic locks are probably not the way you want to go.

4. Electrified Mortise Locks / Wired Mortise Locks

These are an excellent option because they are incredibly easy to use and operate. Mortise locks operate almost entirely like a standard lock that most people have been conditioned to use all of their lives, except they have a power cable connecting the lock to the power supply.

The only somewhat complicated part is that mortise locks require a wire to go through the doors and into the main wall, meaning you either need to use electrified door hinges or on-wall cabling to make them work.

These locks can be set up to be either fail-safe or fail-secure depending on your personal preference.

Some more expensive mortise locks can be set up to switch between fail-safe and fail-secure mode, but it can be a little complicated to install it that way, so if you choose to go that route, you will want to consult with the closest locksmith.

Although mortise locks are a classy option like magnetic locks, unlike magnetic locks, they are not compatible with glass doors, so that must be kept in mind when deciding whether or not to use them.

Harry’s Locksmith has been a regional and community partner for businesses and residents since 1949. Our service areas include the Greater Vancouver area, Portland metro area, and the Pacific Northwest I-5 corridor. There’s no job too big or small for our team of locksmiths who are experts in their field. Our specialties include security doors, keyless entry, ada compliance, master rekeying, and fire door rating inspections.